Mule Round-Up: December 2016 Posted on 6 January 2017 Our second Great UK Mule Round-Up is an end of year special. I asked my mule-owning friends to tell me something about their mules that made them happy or proud in 2016! Val simply said, “The birth of our Willow” – and who could argue with that? 🙂 Jennifer said, “Just hanging around with Malaga, but it was nice to tell the Boss that I was semi-retiring and instead of working 13 days a fortnight would not be doing weekends to give me more time with Malaga … even if the Boss can’t work out what a weekend is! Then there is getting Millie and working with her, putting principles to purpose now I know so much more than when I had Malaga.” Sarah said, “2016 was a very good year for me and Honey. We were fortunate enough to ride on Saddleworth moor with Helen Taylor [of Oxhey Western Trail Rides] and other muley friends, we also competed in trec, went to the donkey breed society show and were made really welcome, we also had the excitement of doing the Burghley sponsored ride! I’m all round proud of my little mule and always grateful for all she teaches me.” Unfortunately Sarah ended her year with a broken hand, courtesy of a certain ginger mule, and is not able to do much typing at the moment. She suggests reading this blog entry by her husband, David! Sheril says, “I’m really happy that Diamond at last begins to feel like she is letting her barriers down a bit. She has always been outwardly friendly – but I just felt she wasn’t really ready to trust me yet in a training/learning situation. It’s been a year and a half now, since she arrived, and I feel the ‘shell’ she wore is starting to dissolve – which is a real milestone. I have been doing loads of short sessions based around her discomfort with the girth – counter-conditioning really, and she is now much more relaxed when the saddle goes on. Here we are in a saddling/unsaddling session.” This photo was taken in April, and Sheril is now able to saddle her at liberty! Jacqui says, “Proud and happy mule moments for 2016 has to go to Luna and Chico.” She and her husband, Clive, have owned Luna for 8 years and she has been a big challenge for them – at one time going by the nickname of Lunatic! All their hard work has paid off, however, as Jacqui adds: “Luna has made us so proud this year. She has ridden in groups of horses and mules over the moors with loose sheep and cows, on long hacks of about seven hours plus, over bridges through dark tunnels, up busy high streets without hesitation or putting a foot wrong and sometimes even being the leader! Then we did a spooky clinic with her against horses and she came second. Luna is such a joy and she has made us proud for not giving up on her, she has paid us back by being a true treasure!” As for Chico, Jacqui says: “Chico is a mule in a million we are never quite sure what he will do as he is just quirky … this year he made us really proud by going to London in the middle of Park Lane and standing as tall and still as any solder when representing the Animals in War memorial service. He did not put a foot wrong in a very busy and unfamiliar environment … he made us very proud and happy of how very smooth the whole event went! Oh, and did I forget to mention we did a sponsored ride around Burghley horse trials on [Chico and Luna]? Such an amazing year 2016 was for us in the saddle and we are already making plans for 2017 to be even better.” Helen sent in this lovely photo: “Me with my two and a half year old mule Betty ❤ We measured her today at 13.3hh which pleased me immensely. She’s very stocky so if she grows another couple of inches and I lose several stone we should be ok together! We had plenty of happy moments when we were out walking around the village during the summer. Betty is just about bombproof and walks out enthusiastically beside me. It’s when we approach home that the problems start! She needs lots of gentle persuasion before she’ll go back in the field! Despite the fact that her mother and friends will always be screaming for her!! We will start taking her out again soon and also plan to introduce her to long reining! Interesting times ahead!” Mary says of her new mule Michelangelo: “We’ve just been spending time hanging out and getting to know each other. He’s a dude. :)” I think my proudest moment of the year has to be Xato. I know how much Xanthe loves this mule and for her to give him to me is an honour that I can not begin to describe. I started this blog with the idea that I could maybe help some people because of it, and I had no idea that one of the people I’d be helping was me! My other best moment of the year was Marty’s training in Devon with Anna Bonnage. Admittedly, at the time I didn’t think that I wanted to carry on with him; but he quickly showed me just how much he’d learnt, and what a big change he’d made, during his time with Anna. The week I spent down there was one of the best of the whole year! I thoroughly enjoyed our morning mule sessions, followed by either watching Anna teach or by going on solo hikes around the gorgeous countryside and picking tasty hedgerow treats for Marty. That’s a nice way to live; just a shame it doesn’t pay the bills!!